SOCSOUTH breaks ground on future headquarters building
By Arthur McQueen, USAG-Miami PAO
/ Published January 19, 2012
HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. --
The ceremony was understated, even subtle -- like a well-planned clandestine operation. Eight shovels in a pile of gravel across the street from the Special Operations South headquarters here, to symbolically begin construction on a new headquarters for the unit.
Seven shovels were gold painted and the one held by Rear Adm. Thomas L. Brown II, the commander of Special Operations Command South, was silver.
"I know it's trite to say that you love Florida, but wow what a great place to work," Brown said, seeming to relish the perfect weather.
Brown was joined by Maj. Gen. Todd T. Semonite, Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers South Atlantic Division, Command Sgt. Maj. Donald White, Miami-Dade County commissioners Jose "Pepe" Diaz and Lynda Bell, Homestead mayor Steve Bateman and Carothers Construction president Ben Logan, leading the team who will soon begin work on the 125,000-square foot, $41 million headquarters facility.
The facility represents a transition from the current trailer-based building and a transition to a more permanent presence in South Florida to facilitate special operations in Latin America and the Caribbean. By being rated to withstand Category 5 storms, SOCSOUTH can continue its mission 24/7, 365 days a year.
"This is our mandate from Gen. Fraser (SOUTHCOM Commander)," Brown said.
The building will be designed to host more than 400 people representing all branches of the armed forces. The new facility will be LEED-Silver certified for its energy conservation and is expected to be completed in three years. The headquarters also integrates native plants into the landscaping which will require little irrigation.
"We are always concerned about future generations and being good stewards of the environment," Brown emphasized.
A fighter training mission obscured part of Brown's speech, but it reminded those present that there are two leading-edge capabilities for the American people present in Homestead. Following the ceremonial moving of gravel, friends and guests mingled and viewed an artist representation of the design.
"For them, this is the big solution," said Michael Norman, acting garrison manager for U.S. Army Garrison-Miami, which provides several support services to the unit.
The design of the building is a big leap from the adequate-but-limited trailers, according to Brown.
"For a 21st Century organization, collaboration is key," he said. "We are building upfront in this building the mechanisms which our operations, plans, intelligence and logistics can have a lot more active collaboration where we aren't limited by walls."
Video teleconferencing will add communication with country teams and partners to the horizontal integration of the different parts of SOCSOUTH.